Mayo Clinic's 'amazing' social change

When asked if they planned to tweet what they had learned, about half of the more than 300 people attending the Mayo Clinic Health Care Social Medial Summit in Rochester raised their hands.

A couple of years ago, most in the audience of medical professionals wouldn't have known what Twitter was.

"It's pretty amazing to see how far it's come in just a short time," said John La Forgia, Mayo's chairman of public affairs.

And use of social media is not just a public relations tool.

On Tuesday, Mayo released its own PR-guided — but health-provider-backed — version of the 867-5309 video ("Jenny, I've got your number...") to raise awareness about heart disease.


This video pines for Jenny in a different way.

"Know your numbers…blood pressure, lipids, and BMI…" go the words in place of 867-5309.

"This is a fun way to encourage people to reduce their risk of heart disease, the No. 1 killer in this country of men and women," the clinic quoted cardiologist Dr. Sharonne Hayes as saying. "Social media offers us the opportunity to get this important health message out to people in a broad way. I guarantee that viewers of the video will be singing the refrain 'blood pressure, lipids and BMI' to the 'Jenny' song all day long."

People attending the social media summit came from near and far, with Mayo employees watching a live webcast systemwide.

Keynote speaker Lee Aase, who as a Mayo employee prodded the organization to become an early adopter of Web-based tools to improve patient education, clinical care and research, said about 375 people from 38 states and four countries are attending the summit. 

Social media use, he said, "is really all about how we can help the health-care system get better." It's not about how Mayo can increase market share, he said, but about "how we can do the right thing for patients."

For example, Dr. Jen Dyer (@EndoGoddess), described her role as a pediatric endocrinologist and health behavioralist and how her adoption of technology led her to develop a smart-phone app to help her teenage diabetic patients who often skipped medication doses.

Dyer has now resigned her medical position to further develop the app (99 cents in the Apple store) and add more. The app uses "friendly nagging" to personalize a weekly check-in with each patient, checking — and raising — prescription adherence "because they want to make Dr. Dyer proud."


Doctors who think health information on the Web is bad should work to replace it with good information, summit participants were told.

Tracy Shepard, coordinator of public relations for the Michigan Hospital Association, is attending the summit. She said she's hoping to hear about patient privacy concerns expressed by her member hospitals.

"I handle social medial for the association. But we're also looking to help our members," she said. Social media fellowships continue at Mayo later this week.

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